Artists Exhibitions News Mexico

Daniel Buren transforms former hospice in Mexico into a maze of colour

French artist's site-specific interventions unveiled in Guadalajara's World Heritage Site

Buren's De la cúpula a la rotonda (from the rotunda dome), 2013-14, installed at the entrance to the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara

Daniel Buren’s colourful striped interventions have arrived in Mexico. The French conceptual artist has created a series of site-specific works at the Hospicio Cabañas, a former Catholic hospice in Guadalajara that was made a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997.

The Neoclassical complex was designed by the Mexican architect Manuel Tolsá in the early 19th-century and covers 2.34 hectares. Today, it is a cultural institute that hosts exhibitions, workshops and concerts. Unesco has praised the “harmonious relationship” between its buildings and open spaces, a feature Buren has made the most of by installing works in 18 of the 23 courtyards.

For the exhibition, “From One Patio to Another: Labyrinth—Works in Situ 2014”, which opened on 14 March and runs for six months, he has transformed the old hospice into a maze of light and colour. Cloister columns have been wrapped in geometric patterns, vaults painted in bright hues and mirrored structures built to create distorted views of familiar surroundings. Buren’s interventions “demystify the building”, says the culture secretary for the Mexican state of Jalisco, Myriam Vachez, in a statement. “He’s saying, ‘I can touch it, yes I can it give my own reading, I can make it fun’, but he gives the Heritage building all the respect it deserves.”

This is not the first time an artist has created work for the complex, however. Its chapel already houses a series of 57 murals completed in the late 1930s by José Clemente Orozco, centring on the work El Hombre de Fuego (The Man of Fire) in the church’s dome, considered one of the Mexican painter’s masterpieces.

The project cost Ps8m ($607,480) and was funded through a collaboration by the Cabañas Institute, Jalisco’s cultural ministry and the Hilario Galguera Gallery. The National Institute of Anthropology and History, which oversees historic sites, supervised Buren and his team during installation.

La Capilla, a todos los colores, recortada (the Chapel, all colors, cut), 2010-14
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